One of the beauties of being a hen is that you have no teeth and thus no reason to ever, ever, spend three hours in a dentist’s chair, two-and-a-half of them with a saw clattering and whirring and going szszszszszszs szszszszszs  szszszszszszs at a pitch so impossibly shrill and high that it rattles your sinuses. My teeth don’t hurt, but my head and face do, jangled and throbbing like they’ve spent too long at the fair in a tilt-a-whirl. Or a centrifuge.

Hopefully the next eight or twelve appointments will be less exciting than this one was. While I white-knuckled the arms of the chair, I tried to think of things other than the small remaining amount of grey matter in my brain being flung about by the vibration of the saw. Or drill. Or whatever evil instrument the dentist was wielding. And I actually did think about hens not having teeth, which led me to wondering a bit more about how they get away with that, given their omnivorous diet.

I posted a chart of the digestive system of a chicken once before, but I now realize that I did not fully understand it. I knew that chickens have a “crop”, which is a sort of pouch that lies in front of the proventriculus, or what passes for a chicken stomach. I also knew that the function of the crop was food storage. But I was a little fuzzy on why it exists.


I knew that, due to the lack of teeth, chickens require grit in their diet to help break food down so it can be digested. Misinformed, however, I believed that the food and the grit met in the crop, which is not true. The purpose of a chicken’s crop is only and simply for food storage. It’s as if they have a little internal suitcase packed with snacks just in case they don’t know where the next meal is coming from. Like camels who store water in humps, chickens have the ability to store food in a crop.

oyster shell grit

oyster shell grit

From there, the food moves to the proventiculus and then to the gizzard, which is where the grit helps to break down the food so it can pass through the intestines. If I am not mistaken, someone, somewhere, actually eats chicken gizzards. If you know someone who does, or has, please send me their photo, as I would like to post it. Oh, and, while I’m on the subject, guess what Victoria made for dinner tonight…

Chicken en papillote

Chicken en papillote

About polloplayer

Empty nester searching for meaning of life through the occasional chicken epiphany.
This entry was posted in All Things Poultry, Annoyances of Life, Chicken Facts and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Moving…very…slowly…

  1. The Husband.... says:

    Made me cringe to read about your time in the dentist’s chair. But hey, at least that session is in the rear view mirror. And it could have been worse; Dr. Lannan could have been playing John Philip Souza music throughout the whole ordeal.

  2. Katherine Gunther says:

    Marilyn, meet Xanax. Xanax, meet Marilyn. I never go to the dentist without it.

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